1987 Horatio Alger Award Winner
Born in a small coal-mining town in Ohio, Arthur James was the third child of Italian immigrant parents. He attended a two-room school in the mining camp where his father worked. When James was eight, his father left the mines to operate a grocery store. From that time on, James helped his parents with the store.
While admiring how hard his parents worked, young James understood that schooling was the key to a better life for him. An excellent student, James won a scholarship to Ohio State University in 1930. He earned his bachelor's, master's, and medical doctor degrees at the same school, followed by internships at the University of Chicago Clinics and Duke University, and a surgical residency at the Ohio State University Hospital. In 1942, he was accepted as a fellow in cancer training at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. However, he had to interrupt his training to serve in the Army during World War II. When the war ended, he completed his training, then returned to Ohio State as an assistant professor of surgery, specializing in oncology.
Throughout his career, James was active in the American Cancer Society and served as national president in 1972-1973. He was presented their highest award, the Medal of Honor, in 1990. James was also active with the Society of Surgical Oncology, the Society of Head and Neck Surgeons, and the Columbus Surgical Society, serving as president of each.
When James won his Horatio Alger Award in 1987, he was the medical director of the Cancer Research Institute, which was renamed the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Research Institute in October 1987 to honor and recognize his work. He became the emeritus medical director and co-director of development in 1989.
James once said, "Each of us has the capacity to help relieve human suffering, be it by a smile, a gift to the needy, the relief of pain by a physician, or the cure of a disease by a scientist." Honored by his Horatio Alger Award, he said, "It signifies my belief that if we persevere throughout life, we can achieve any goal. When you have a goal, and you know what you want to accomplish, then you just need to work hard, persevere, and stick with it. To accomplish something worthwhile, you have to persevere."* Deceased